From Bob Marley’s burial with his Bible to the largest (and smallest) Bibles ever printed, there’s enough odd factoids to fill several books with tidbits about the Holy Book. But if you ever open up and read the entire Bible, it seems that God always has the last laugh, and plenty of laughs there are. Some biblical stories are familiar to most Christians: the Creation story, Jonah and the Whale, Jesus feeding the 5,000 with loaves and fishes. Some others, though, I stumbled upon online and needed to affirm that they did indeed occur in the Bible. Somewhat surprisingly to me, they all did.
In the Book of Judges, for example, the Israelites turn from the ways of God and begin to worship false idols. So God strengthens a king, Eglon, who oppresses the people for eighteen years until they cry out to God for mercy and compassion. To aid the Israelites, God raises a hero, Ehud, who prepares a lavish offering for Eglon. After the offering has been presented, Ehud tells Eglon that he comes bearing a secret message from God for the king. Intrigued and excited that God has a special message for him, he sends all the attendants away. Once they are alone, Ehud unsheaths a dagger that he had secretly strapped to his thigh and stabs the corrupt king. The Bible says “Now Eglon was a very fat man . . . [and] the hilt went in also after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade because he did not withdraw the dagger from the body.” So not only was the king stabbed, but the murder weapon left in him for dramatic effect. To add further insult to injury, Eglon escapes, leaving the king dead on the floor, where he remains for several hours until his attendants think to look in on him (Judges 3:12-30).
Jesus has a few feisty moments himself throughout his ministry. I like to think that these stories are there to remind us that it’s okay to be a little sassy or impatient once in a while, and God is still going to be there to love and support us. In Matthew 17:24-27, the temple elders are testing Jesus and Peter (as they are wont to do), asking whether they pay the temple tax. Jesus, always two steps ahead, smoothly explains why he shouldn’t have to pay, but happily will anyway. Then, instead of just asking Peter to give them a coin from the money bag for the tax, Jesus tells him to go fish in the sea, and “take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth, and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.” It’s almost as though Jesus is rubbing it in the faces of elders who’s boss in this town!
Of course, no one can forget the time that Jesus finds a fig tree on his way into town. Excited to eat a fig, then severely disappointed when the tree has no figs (even though it is not fig season and there is no reason to think that a fig would be on the tree), Jesus curses the tree, and “immediately the fig tree withers” (Matthew 21:19).
These are just a few of the funky, unconventional, and unusual stories in the Bible. Join us next week for Part 2.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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